My thoughts about Education

Rate your online learning-ability

I stumbled on this website that rates ones readiness to be a successful oline learner. I scored 33 out of 39 which means:

You are a strong candidate for success in an online course!

It adds:

  • meets the necessary technical requirements and is comfortable with the equipment
  • has the time and resources to dedicate to online course work
  • is comfortable with the written word and use of e-mail as a communication form
  • is self-disciplined, self-guided and committed
  • has the ability to prioritize responsibilities and work independently
  • will ask for assistance when needed to build academic and social support systems
  • has much to benefit from this delivery method vs. residence programs (Examples: busy lifestyle, geographic
  • isolation from campus, parenting requirements or restrictions, physical disability, corporate support to learn at work )

Source: https://www.miracosta.edu/instruction/distanceeducation/quiz.aspx

MOOC: Online Writing Course

I have just started another MOOC course on Coursera about writing. I was amazed to discover they have outlined 5 types of online offering. I am wondering why a writing course talk about online teaching? But I found its information worth capturing:

Type 1: Traditional Undergraduate Level Online Courses: have a great deal of instructor to student interaction,  follow the course content of the face-to-face counterpart, not self-paced, follow along with the entire class within a designated time period, do activities with other members of the class, also limited in size.

Type 2: Traditional Graduate Level Online Courses: the student is much more self-directed, not self-paced, but there is more interaction among the students with the instructor in a facilitation role.

Type 3: Mass Open Online Courses (MOOC): The interaction with the instructor is limited, the instructor mainly participates through designing the course and offering its content. The instructor will also participate in some of the discussion activities and is usually assisted by peer tutors or teaching assistants. Much of the course is conducted with technology providing the evaluation through machine graded tests and assignments as well as the use of peer graded work. These courses may or may not be self-paced based on the content and the design and usually have hundreds or thousands of students from all over the world.

Type 4: Hybrid (sometimes called Blended) Distance Education Courses: These courses usually occur in the traditional college setting and are partially online courses.

Type 5: Flipped Classes: take place in face-to-face classrooms in many colleges and universities. They implement online content and activities as a major component of the course delivery. Instructors determine what content for the course can best be done by students on their own (watching video lectures, read, do tutorials, etc.) and what parts of the course the students usually need help with (writing essays, solving problems, creating projects, etc.). Students complete the work on their own online before coming to class to work with the instructor on the components that are best done with instructor assistance.

Courses with Proctored Testing: Many fully online courses require the students to go to a specific place to do testing. Usually, the site for testing is the college campus or an alternative sited agreed to by the instructor and the individual student. (This class has no proctored testing.) Student integrity is very important in distance education programs because the college has to be sure that their courses meet requirements of governmental agencies.” 

(Ross, Barkley & Blake n.d.)

Although I like this classification and it makes sense, i still find their definition of the MOOC type to be wrong, or at least, incomplete.

References
Ross, L. & Barkley, T., Blake, T. (n.d.) : Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade by Lorrie Ross, Lawrence (Larry) Barkley, Ted Blake. Coursera Course. Week 1. Retrieved from https://class.coursera.org/basicwriting-001/class/index

7 Principles for effective online teaching

I have been away for a while, ainy because I am busy with the impemmentation of knowledge worker technologies, and partially because I am bloggine on y personal blog. For now, I want to capture Chickering and Gamson (1987)  seven principles of effective pedagogical practices for online teaching before they get lost. They are written in 1987, but I find them still applicable today:

  1. Encourage contacts between students and faculty in and out of classes.
  2. Learning is enhanced when it is more like a team effort than a solo race.
  3. Active learning is encouraged in classes that use structured exercises, challenging discussions, team projects, and peer critiques.
  4. Students need appropriate and timely feedback on their performance to benefit from courses.
  5. Learning to use one’s time well is critical for students and professionals alike.
  6. Communicate higher expectations.
  7. Provide a diverse delivery system.

LAk12: Baker’s Educational Data Mining

Thoughts and information captured from Ryan Baker’s Presentation as part of LAK12 videocast:

  • Educational Data Mining: improve research, improving learning models (Journal of Ed Psychology). It predicts the future. Change the future [tough for me to digest, maybe should say: change the future failure into success rather than change the future]
  • Resources: Journal of EDM, Intl EDM Society
  • EDM & LAK:
  • Similarities: understand learning through study of large data; improving education and research; drives planning, decision making and manual/automated intervention.
  • Differences:
  • LAK=include automated discovery, EDM=putting human judgement in the automated discovery [still confusing to me]
  • LAK=understand the system, EDM=focus on components and the relationship between them
  • LAK=inform instructors and learners, EDM=automated adaptation
  • LAK=focus on needs of multiple stakeholders; EDM=focus on model generalization
  • EDM Methods: Prediction (classification, regression, density estimation), Clustering [I oppose this], Relationship mining [I relate to this], Distillation, Discovery [I need to know more about it to align it to my research and interest].
  • Knowledge Engineering [?]
  • Vision: predict student success based on analysing data generated by the students. Data obtained from: course selection data, cognitive tutor log data, grade data, AST data, Khan Academy log, State Std exams, SAT Career interest, Strong Interest Inventory, MSLQ Survey. [missing soft data like intelligence indicators, interest indicators, strengths indicators, stimuli profiling, communication profiling, etc… will they be handled by LAK?]
  • https://pslcdatashop.web.cmu.edu/
  • [I did not sense the drive to help students to discover their learning strengths although I have read a lot about changing students attitudes!]
  • Learning indicators: correctness or incorrectness,

References

Baker, R. (2011). https://sas.elluminate.com/p.jnlp?psid=2012-01-31.1003.M.0728C08DFE8BF0EB7323E19A1BC114.vcr&sid=2008104

Bibliography

  • http://www.educationaldatamining.org/
  • http://lak12.sites.olt.ubc.ca/
  • https://pslcdatashop.web.cmu.edu/

Interesting Slides

Slide 29: Sample of correlation between behaviour and EDM indicators

Slide 30: Sample of correlation between action and gaming

 

LAK12: Siemen’s Educause Presentation

Here are the slides:

Notes, Reflections and Thoughts

  • Academic Analytics: target organizational efficiency, strategy and decision making. (Campbell, Dianne ?)
  • Educational Data-mining: Reducing components and analyzing relationship.
  • Learning Analytics: Systems and wholes that include social components and cognitive elements.
  • Bottom Up: Data collected through traditional learning activities.
  • Top-Down: System wide data collected.
  • Due to the existence of large data, cognitive processes need to use tools to convert them into useable information.
  • Confidence is directly related to (academic) success.
  • Quantified Self: Tracking the self abilities and analysis its data.
  • Precise and accurate information leads to better performance overall all types of organization.
  • In learning, there are many data/methods that exist: EduCause, Student Success researches, Duval, Haythornthwaite, De Liddo & Buckingham Shum (automated vs manual, 70% accuracy), Social learning analytics, Clow & Makriyannis (icebox?)
  •  Privacy and Ethics issues especially when you relate the data to none-learning layers will cause unease and we need manifestos to guide the privacy and ethics layer to minimize negative reaction. There is no research about P, E and analytics.
  • Gold Mine: Organizations [e.g Pearson, Stanford] offers open free learning courses because it offer them priceless free amount of learning data.
  • Learning organization collect massive data. We need (1) figure out a way to find them and (2) We need to relate the data together.
  • Data needs to include: data from outside LMS, from Library, classroom interaction. This required 3 layers to communicate together: Systems/enterprise level + Researchers + Educators.
  • 24% of learning organizations utilize deep analytics (Kron, 2011).
  • The process of handling data: Acquisition, Storage, Cleaning, Integration, Analysis, Representation [Myopic view]
  • Procedures for a systems: Strategy, Planning & Resources allocation, Metrics & Tools, Capacity Development, Systemic change (Click on image to enlarge, Siemens, @ 45:00 min)
  • Capacity Development: will require restructure and redevelopment capacity.
  • Resources found at: www.solaresearch.org
  • Cloud Based Analytic research: SAlgorithm should be open, Student should see what schools sees,
  • Conference in Vancouver: lak12.sites.olt.ubc.ca
  • Starting point for new born analyticians: Initiate the social practice. Other suggestions: use tools (statistics, SPSS, SNAP, …, low threshold tools), begin conversation in the institution to identify chunks of data, Sr. Admin track the procedural matrix, PD a team and the capacity (tab on Educause).
  • Initial questions: (1) Teacher level: why do students do what they do, what network structure contribute to student learning (2) Admin level: what is the impact of resources on learning success -> provide an edge.
  • Collective collaboration: relate and connect to others, organization,  state level, develop new tools.

References

Siemans, G. (2012). https://educause.adobeconnect.com/_a729300474/p4xmnq9p9rz/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal

 

LAK12: 3 ingredients that made up a new LAK side dish

The learning analytics has been slow burning on my mind since I enrolled in the lak12.mooc.ca course. I usually dedicate Monday afternoon for the LAK focused reading and reflections in preparation for Tuesday activities. But the idea is placed on a slow cooking pot throughout the week where I add an ingredient based on an incident here, anecdote there, or a info I gather. Then on Monday, I taste the pot to see if I can make something tasteful out of the mix. Today, I feel I can uncover a good side dish: analyzing the controlling instincts. Here where it came from.

The first ingredient: In an argument with my wife, I discovered that we sometime say something while we mean something totally different and we usually do not recognize that. For example, to me, prepare the table to eat means having plates and cutlery distributed on the table. To my wife, it means the feel and look of the elegance of the table which should include a red cover, lit candles and romantic music. She never said them in those words and she adamantly rejected this notion but admitted this is what was desired(yes… go figure). So, the same thing means different things to ourselves as well as to others. How can we develop an analytic system that can understand our behaviour and habits if we, ourselves, many times, do not understand them.

The second ingredient: we had couple of colleagues to dinner and we were chatting about validity of profiling tests. The discussion got to the MBTI profiling test. One conclusion that came out of the discussion was that MBTI wording of the questions measure “what you want to be” and not “who you are”. So, if the most famous measuring analytics cannot measure who we are, how can learning analytics measure our learning by analyzing data that resides on the internet. Mind boggling indeed.

The third ingredient: Buckingham newest book was sitting on my desk since my son bought it for me for Christmas. I decided to read it. To my amazement, around page 23, he indicated that our natural reactions are not random that depends on outside factors, but are based on recurring patterns that are deep  rooted in our personality. Those recurring patterns are our strengths! [My first aha: can we define a term called “our learning strength”? which is determined by a set of recurring learning habits or reactions? But how? add this ingredient to the pot].

Buckingham answer to the same question did not convince me that we can apply it effectively as a learning analytics. But its gesture has many good potential applications. He said that he applied the stimulus/reaction approach. [My second aha: maybe learning analytics should include processes to identify responses based on certain stimuli that the learner consistently exhibits while learning or surfing the net, consequently, one can determine the recurring pattern that formulate the learner’s learning strengths]. I am not sure yet that I want to add this ingredient to the pot. It needs more research.

So, recognizing that sometimes we do not know ourselves, recognizing that existing profiling tests cannot measure accurately who we are and recognizing that we need to look for recurring learning patters are 3 ingredients that makes a light side dish that still need more ingredients to make it tasteful. Let’s see what week 2 brings.

References

Buckigham, M. (2011). Standout: The groundbreaking new strengths assessment from the leader of the strengths finder. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson.

LAK12: Educational Data Mining

This is my first blog about the LAK12 course to see if my feed goes to the rest. To make it worthwhile, I thought to share with everyone the Concept Map I created based on this week reading (Click on the image to enlarge):

References:

Baker, R., & Yacef, K. (2009). The state of educational data mining in 2009: A review and future visions. Journal of Educational Data Mining, 1(1), 3–17.

Community of Practice

I have met Etienne Wenger in 2000 when we were working on creating the LINC (Learning International Network Consortium) with Prof. Dick Larson in MIT. He introduced his Community of Practice to us as a group and I was fascinated with it (although I just comprehended it fully!). We had a nice chat especially about my Controlling Instincts theories which, somehow, complemented his theory. I do not remember whether I felt he accepted it because I was proud of myself or he dismissed it and I chose to ignore the fact. Few years later, I met him again at a conference held by University of Alberta… and to my amazement, he did not remember me although he remembered the project. It was an understandable shock.
Anyways, I read and reflected on his Community of Practice sporadically over the years until I was forced to study it as part of my doctoral studies. It was an optional topic that I opted to choose for I thought I could finish it quickly. To my amazement, it was a transformational experience. I saw it through a totally new eyes. Then I started seeing the world in a totally new eyes as well. I saw it as a complex field of circles. People who walk into the circle learn new language… they understand things in a way that people outside the circle cannot understand. Now, when I talk with someone, I try to figure out which circle he belongs to, I reflect to figure out if I know the paradigm of that circle, then I start using his terms. If I do not relate to his circle, I shut up, listen attentively and just nod. When I have a chance, I try to translate the conversation to terms I can relate to.

An Epiphany that has many applications.

One intimidate application is another epiphany I got when I was watching Gardner video (see it below). I related very quickly to his ideas. I am in his circle. Yet, in his talk, he hinted that many reputable theorists rejected his ideas. How can anyone reject Gardner’s ideas? They are so logical and natural. Then it hit me when he said: “my work in neuroscience influenced me”. Using CoP, he belongs to two circles: psychology and neurosciences. I can bet $100 that those who are opposing him are well versed in psychology, but not neuroscience… or some other circles I am not aware of… an epiphany: Wenger ideas could be applied here as well… What a great idea this “Community of Practice” is…

Another application: the above two experiences, the Wenger and Gardner, had an influence on a doctoral assignment I had to submit. It is simple: create a concept map about the relationships of the Learning Theories. However, based on the above two experiences, and based on my interaction with other doctoral students, I discovered that most educational studies classify and categories learning theory based on psychological paradigm (that is the Community of Psychological Practice). I thought: maybe I should come up with a new model that classify learning theories based on the Community of Practice of its curator… In this way, I will have an effective tool to understand where the theorist is coming from, what values and vocabulary they use, the connotations behind their words and, above all, understand in a better way those who criticize the theory.

What a week.

Below is a partial and an initial map I came up with which requires further analysis and compilations (click to enlarge):

Ah, I was almost going to forget Gardner’s video (it is long, but worth watching if you are interested in the background around Multiple Intelligences):

Yen Yang of education: First Attempt

The Chinese believe that polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and that they give rise to each other in turn (from Wikipedia). In my recent doctoral researchers and exposures, I have discovered some dichotomous situations and concepts that might require the Yen Yang philosophy to explain. In this post, I will list some of my finding hoping to elaborate further in the future.

Natural and Artificial Learning: When reviewing Vygotsky, Gardner, Lavit and Wenger’s work, I discovered that they advocate that learning happens naturally when an individual is placed in the right social environment, like Community of Practice. Deeper reflections and further investigation in cognitive neurosciences, made me discover that there is a good possibility that individuals can learn naturally on their own merit. This made me wonder: is traditional education an artificial learning environment? If Yen Yan premesis are correct, it is worth investigating this topic under that light!

(P.S.: I used “traditional education” because I have witnessed many educators who deviated from traditional education methods and actually created a natural learning environment in their classes.)

Copycat and Creative: Interacting with Sir Ken Robinson’s ideas about dismissal of creativity in preliminary school, and few other readings about Clifton positive approaches made me think if the learning processes that individuals go through since birth would yield one personality out of two: either a copycat personality or a creative personality. The copycat get his (or her) creativity from borrowing ideas from others, while a creative personality can imagine and visualize unrealistic images.

This idea was enforced again when I was watching a video of Pauolo Coelheo describing two types of authors: one who write based on experiences they go through themselves, and those who create new realities that they have never experienced. Watch the video: (P.S., I am wondering if I an a copycat or creative person. what do you think?)
Watch Coelho video:

Strengths, Weaknesses and Disorders

In a recent discussion with PhD students, I touched base on how Positive Psychology should shape our world instead of surrendering to the negativity of traditional psychology. When I was challenged to prove that positive psychology could help people with anxiety and or personality disorder without medication, I reverted to Clifton’s strengths as a support. Then a epiphany happened. I related stress and anxiety to strengths and weaknesses. I said that: anxiety (e.g. stress, fear, insecurity, etc) happens to a person who is forced to live, study or work in areas of his weaknesses.  Personality disorder (e.g. compulsiveness, impulsiveness, addiction, etc.) happens to a person who has strengths suppressed.

So, to help a person under stress, let him change his environment to capitalize on his strengths. To help a person with personality disorder, help him rediscover then relate to his strengths.

This deserves a serious research. A topic for my PhD thesis? Do I want to get involved in the messy world of psychology? I doubt it.

Q&A: Learning Styles

Learning Styles TreeIn a recent academic discussion about learning styles, I was inundated with questions related to my standpoint about Learning Styles. I though I should summarize my philosophy in this post.

1. Do you feel the models are really that important?

Yes. At this stage of the educational game, learning models are important stepping stones essential to push education. Before Kolb introduced his model, educators believed that there is only one type of learning and that learners who do not conform to this type are lazy, incompetent, under-achievers, at risk and all the negative labels attached to such failure. Kolb introduction of his model in 1986 forced education to adjustment the curriculum and teaching to accommodate for different styles, consequently giving an equal chance for students to learn. This was a powerful shift of the blame from the student to the teacher. As Hogan mentioned in 2002, This led to a new educational paradigm where the teacher became the ‘facilitator of learning’ instead of the teacher.

2. What is the impact of the large number of learning styles

I foresee that the explosion in the number of learning styles will definitely force education to make more paradigm shifts with more focus on learners’ success. No one can tell how it will look like as much as Graham Bell was able to tell that his invention of the phone will lead to the iPad. But we can sense the change in many new educational ideas like the one promoted by Aviram and Amir in 2008. For example, some emerging teaching programs permit, if not encourages, that each student learn differently although they are taking the same material and supposed to pass the same assessment. This is not permitted in traditional education because every student is expected to demonstrate learning along the same norms. Without the ideas of differing learning styles, there would have never made the shift to this teaching approach.

3. Do we have to teach to a particular student’s learning style

Depends on the scenario. You asked about “teaching” so I will limit my reply to the “teaching” scenario. When I teach for certification (like Project Management or Safety), I use one style because the certification expects one type of learners consequently diversification is counterproductive. Obviously, I disagree with this approach, but I use it. On the other hand, when I teach transformational courses, I do consider the different learners’ learning needs ahead of the course to ensure effective learning.

I cannot help myself to point out that the ideal approach is to stop teaching so students can learn. This is new educational paradigm that I hope the multiplicity of learning types will bring to the educational table.

4. Do you feel that the set of Learning Types will ever be complete?

My “feeling” is I do not care. Having complete command over all learning style is a waste of my time and my resources. Few of them are enough for me. However, if you ask me if I want “them” to complete the picture? I’d say yes. The future of education is in technology. Computers will be able to customize the learning of each individual far better than any human teacher. For computers to do a good job, the whole framework should be complete. I think they are doing a great job individualizing the online shopping experience, I hope that approach extends to individualizing learning.

4. Is it better to follow a given model or to instead be aware of the many varied ways students might learn and focus instead on strategies for both educator and student.

If we are “teaching”, then following a given model, or combination of models, is really helpful. For example, I find Kurucz learning orientation model an effective approach to use with multicultural students. I find some underlying concepts in VARK and NLP to be effective “communication” (and not learning) tools. For example, I make sure my teaching material includes the 4 VARK mediums, while I use the NLP concepts to read deeper into my student personality through observing their usage of words and bodily gestures when they are conveying a message. Above all, I find Clifton’s model to be an effective reference when I need to help those who fail my courses to succeed in their life. My courses receive high merit evaluation from the learners, yet, always, there is that one learner who considers it to be the worst course ever! So this approach still needs refinement.

On the other hand, if I am “not-teaching” to make my students learn, I do not need to use any of these models for the students will follow their own natural learning abilities. I do not think I should interfere to ruin their learning ;-).

X-Teacher and Theory Y-Teacher

In the 1960’s, Douglas McGregor from MIT came up with the Theory-X and Theory-Y to describe styles of managers. It became very popular in the field of HR and it was a model that helped shift management from the negative paradigm to a positive spin. I would like to apply the same theories in Education describing Teacher-X and Teacher-Y. I have copied and pasted the theory directly from  and replaced management terms with educational terms. So, work becomes study, employees becomes students, managers becomes educators, and so on. I have placed the words I could not find an alternative between square brackets.

Theory-X

In this theory, [which has been proven counter-effective in most modern practices], educators assume students are inherently lazy and will avoid studying if they can and that they inherently dislike learning. As a result of this, educators believes that students need to be closely supervised and comprehensive systems of controls developed. A hierarchical structure is needed with narrow span of control at each and every level. According to this theory, students will show little ambition without an enticing incentive program and will avoid responsibility whenever they can. [According to Michael J. Papa,]  if the educational goals are to be met, theory X educators rely heavily on threat and coercion to gain their students’ compliance. Beliefs of this theory lead to mistrust, highly restrictive supervision, and a punitive atmosphere. The Theory X educators tends to believe that everything must end in blaming someone. He or she thinks all prospective educators are only out for themselves. Usually these educators feel the sole purpose of the student’s interest in the school is [????]. They will blame the person first in most situations, without questioning whether it may be the system, policy, or lack of training that deserves the blame. A Theory X educator believes that his or her students do not really want to study, that they would rather avoid responsibility and that it is the teacher’s job to structure the work and energize the students. One major flaw of this teaching style is it is much more likely to cause Diseconomies of Scale.

Theory-Y

In this theory, education assumes students may be ambitious and self-motivated and exercise self-control. It is believed that students enjoy their mental and physical learning duties. [According to Papa,] to them learning is as natural as play. They possess the ability for creative problem solving, but their talents are underused in most organizations. Given the proper conditions, theory Y educators believe that students will learn to seek out and accept responsibility and to exercise self-control and self-direction in accomplishing objectives to which they are committed. A Theory Y teacher believes that, given the right conditions, most people will want to do well at their studies. They believe that the satisfaction of doing a good job is a strong motivation. Many people interpret Theory Y as a positive set of beliefs about students. [A close reading of The Human Side of Enterprise] reveals that McGregor simply argues for teachers to be open to a more positive view of students and the possibilities that this creates. He thinks that Theory Y teachers are more likely than Theory X teachers to develop the climate of trust with students that is required for learning. It’s human resource development that is a crucial aspect of any organization. This would include teachers communicating openly with students, minimizing the difference between mentor-learner relationships, creating a comfortable environment in which students can develop and use their abilities. This climate would include the sharing of decision making so that students have a say in decisions that influence them.

Diamonds and education

[Pre-notes: I was browsing the knowledge world where I stumbled upon the below article in Wikipedia about diamonds. I looked at the “diamond cutting” process and found that it matches so well my ideas about learning orientations. I will adopt this poece to education later. For now, I just copied/pasted it from Wikipedia (because I assumed it might change very soon). I highlighted the ideas that require reflection in red, and I recommend, for now, change: diamond to learning orientation, cutting to education, jewel to person, facets to strengths, crystallographic structure to synaptic formation,…]

The mined rough diamonds are converted into gems through a multi-step process called “cutting”. Diamonds are extremely hard, but also brittle and can be split up by a single blow. Therefore, diamond cutting is traditionally considered as a delicate procedure requiring skills, scientific knowledge, tools and experience. Its final goal is to produce a faceted jewel where the specific angles between the facets would optimize the diamond luster, that is dispersion of white light, whereas the number and area of facets would determine the weight of the final product. The weight reduction upon cutting is significant and can be of the order of 50%. Several possible shapes are considered, but the final decision is often determined not only by scientific, but also practical considerations. For example the diamond might be intended for display or for wear, in a ring or a necklace, singled or surrounded by other gems of certain color and shape.

The most time-consuming part of the cutting is the preliminary analysis of the rough stone. It needs to address a large number of issues, bears much responsibility, and therefore can last years in case of unique diamonds. The following issues are considered:

The hardness of diamond and its ability to cleave strongly depend on the crystal orientation. Therefore, the crystallographic structure of the diamond to be cut is analyzed using X-ray diffraction to choose the optimal cutting directions.

Most diamonds contain visible non-diamond inclusions and crystal flaws. The cutter has to decide which flaws are to be removed by the cutting and which could be kept.

The diamond can be split by a single, well calculated blow of a hammer to a pointed tool, which is quick, but risky. Alternatively, it can be cut with a diamond saw, which is a more reliable but tedious procedure.

After initial cutting, the diamond is shaped in numerous stages of polishing. Unlike cutting, which is a responsible but quick operation, polishing removes material by gradual erosion and is extremely time consuming. The associated technique is well developed; it is considered as a routine and can be performed by technicians. After polishing, the diamond is reexamined for possible flaws, either remaining or induced by the process. Those flaws are concealed through various diamond enhancement techniques, such as repolishing, crack filling, or clever arrangement of the stone in the jewelry. Remaining non-diamond inclusions are removed through laser drilling and filling of the voids produced.

Should online teachers be requested to take training?

Question: Should teachers who want to teach in online programs be required to take some specialized training in the pedagogy of online learning and instructional design for online learning? If so, what should that look like? If not, why not?

Good teachers who focus on learner’s success will be able to do well in the classroom as well as the online teaching because their focus in students’ learning and not covering the material.  They will not require a formal pedagogical training. They might require training on some technical tools. These teachers, usually, request the training themselves or they will teach themselves. In most cases, they will be happy with a self paced online course. They might prefer collaborative activities that help them discover their online teaching style.

The remaining teachers should be asked to attend formal training, on the pedagogy, andragogy, network learning, methodologies as well as the technology. The training activities should have the following components:

  1. An online component.
  2. A face to face component.
  3. A component that addresses the shift they need to make to their teaching style.
  4. A component that helps them manage the online technologies, tools and methodologies.
  5. A component that exposes them to different teaching activities and methodologies that applies to online learning.
  6. A self learning component.

The delivery style should have a mix between behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism. A “crowd learning” component would add value. They need to be exposed to connectivism though this will be for the advanced earners.

Anas' Thinking Zone Rotating Header Image

My Philosophy Statements about Teaching and Learning v 4.2

[I have written this in 2010. I will reflect on it to move to v.5 in 2012 based on my learning growth in the last two years. The text in red need to be revised]

In April 2010, I wrote:

Philosophy Statements about Teaching and Learning, v. 4.1 > 4.2

I. Abstract

In my opinion, the best instruction is the 1-1 approach. Not in the traditional sense where a teacher teaches one student. This is not feasible using traditional teaching methods. In an ideal teaching scenario, the learners need to have “customized”, “personalized” and “individualized” teaching that caters for their learning style and talent through the innovative use of technology in all its facets. This applies in the face-to-face setting as well as online teaching.

II. Concepts and Values

This post highlights the set of values and definitions that governs my philosophy about teaching and learning. It includes a set of practices I follow when designing as well as delivering my courses, whether face-to-face or online.

Role of Teachers: Following Entwisted (1990) line of thought, I believe that the primary professional responsibility of teachers, trainers and online courses is to maximise the learning opportunities of their learners. Some would use the term “facilitator” but I still like to use the traditional term, teacher, with added contemporary connotations.

Learning, Information and Knowledge: Information, knowledge and their relation to learning is one of the vaguest concepts in the literature (Fox, 1991). Harris supplied the definition which is closest to my heart:

“knowledge is private, while information is public. Knowledge, therefore, cannot be communicated; only information can be shared. Whenever an attempt to communicate knowledge is made, it is translated into information, which other learners can choose to absorb and transform into knowledge, if they so desire” (Harris, 1995, p.1)

According to this description, I believe that learning is the process of personalizing information and experience thus creating knowledge. Collective knowledge includes skills, attitudes and beliefs. Teachers’ role is to create the desire in the learner to absorb and transform the information and experience into their own knowledge.

Assessment: is defined as “the process of documenting, usually in measurable terms, knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs” (Wikipedia, Assessment). I believe that this definition mixes up between knowledge and information. In my courses, I like to define assessment as “the process of documenting, usually in qualitative terms, the incremental knowledge attained during the teaching process”. How to do this? I have few ideas that I hope will be firmed in version 5 of my philosophy.

Curriculum: I like to categories the curriculum into two types: the regulated curriculum where outcomes are clearly quantified and regulated (like army training, government regulated courses, professional tests) and free-form curriculum where the outcomes depends on the learners’ achievement within clear guidelines (example: art classes, architecture and medicine). I believe courses in the regulated curriculum address learning at the information level. Free form courses tackle the learning at the knowledge level. Each of these two types requires different teaching styles and methodologies. The difference is recognized in the design and delivery of each type, although, personally, I avoid handling regulated courses as an online course.

Learning Spaces: Brown (2005) used the term “Learning Spaces” to replaces the traditional classroom term. I like to use the same term to indicate any space that induces learning in individuals: a classroom, my office, a cafe, over the phone, on a forum, blog, wikipage, online, offline, and all the new medium of learning that is available.

Learning Styles: ** This is evolving. My old me said:

My values recognize that individuals learn in multitude of ways. Consequently, the process of creating the desire in learners to learn should match the learners’ style. The literature offers at least 13 different schools of thought in this area (Coffield et al, 2004). Out of these schools, I find that Allinson and Hayes Cognitive Style Index to be the most suitable because it has “the best psychometric credentials” (Coffield et al, 2004, p139). I believe, to use learning styles as motivators to learning, I must include other factors like the set of intelligences acquired by the learner (Gardner et al,1995) and the set of strengths that determines their talent (Clifton & Nelson, 1992). My teaching should include drivers that ignite the learning desire based on the learners’ profile. Technology makes achieving this approach more plausible. I find the 4MAT approach to learning styles (McCarthy, 1990) the most suitable. This approach advocates that teaching should:

(1) Promote self reflecting, analysing, and experiencing.
(2) Inspire transitioning of information into knowledge
(3) Allow the individuals to digest and create content
(4) Encourage learners to express themselves

And I like to add a fifth one:

(5) Facilitate creation of knowledge through collective collaboration and network communication (Tapscott and Williams, 2010)”.

My new me would like to add something related to: “there are different learning styles as much as there are learners. This will come in 2012.

Learning Theories: As outlined by Anderson in his CIDER Webinar of April 2010, effective teaching should apply a mix of learning theories (behaviorism, cognitive, constructive and connectivism). I am a strong believer in this approach.

Generational Differences: Tapscott (2008) coined the term NetGen to describe individuals who were born in the digital age. I agree with him that NetGen learns in ways different than what traditional education is able to offer. Consequently, my delivery will recognize the different learning drivers dichotomies as presented by Coffield, (2004).

Parallel Education: As suggested by Brown (2010) and McGonigal (2010), new learning paradigms are emerging where the younger generation are building their knowledge outside the traditional educational systems. Some refer to this as the parallel education. The learning in this paradigm is naturally motivated and based on discovering personal talents through “virtual-real-life” experiences in areas not recognized in the traditional educational understanding. In my courses, I need to identify learners who are following this approach and encourage them to exploit it in the learning of the material. This is not easy especially that the concept is new. Maybe it will be the core driver for my philosophy version 5!

Technology in Learning: In my educational realm, technology helps to customize, individualize and personalize learning. For many thousand years, human learned based on one-to-one teaching (Toffler, 1980) until the industrial evolution came up with the idea of mass production that shaped our present educational system (West, 2001). This method is becoming obsolete to meet the new challenges (Tapsott & Wilson, 2010). With the advancement of the technology, we can go back to the natural way of human learning, i.e. one-to-one by customizing teaching to satisfy individualistic learning drivers through online courses and activities. [I need to address Cloud Learning, Connectivism and Crowd Learning]

Continuous Improvement: My courses will always contain learners feedback to continuously evaluate means of improvement. This philosophy will continuously evolve based on new discoveries, emerging technologies, my acquired knowledge and interactions with my learners.

III. References

Brown, D., (2010), An Open Letter to Educators, YouTube Video.

Brown M., (2005), Learning Spaces, Educating the Net Generation, Educause eBooks.

Clifton, D. O., & Nelson, P. (1992). Soar with Your Strengths, Dell Publishing.

Coffield, F. J., Moseley D. V., Hall .E & Ecclestone, K. (2004). Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning: a systematic and critical review. London: Learning and Skills Research Centre/University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Entwistle, N.J. (1998). Improving teaching through research on student learning. In JJF Forrest (ed.) University teaching: international perspectives. New York: Garland.

Fox, S. (1991). The production and distribution of knowledge through open and distance learning. In D. Hylnka & J. C. Belland (Eds.), Paradigms regained: The uses of illuminative, semiotic and post-modern criticism as modes of inquiry in educational technology. Englewood Clifs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Gardner, H., Kornhaber, M. L., & Wake W. K. (1995). Intelligence: multiple perspectives, Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Judi H. (1995). Educational Telecomputing Projects: Information Collections, The Computing Teacher journal, published by the International Society for Technology in Education.

McGonigal, J. (2010). Gaming can make a better world. TED Presentation.

Tapscott, D. (2008). Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World, The McGraw-Hill.

Tapscott, D., & Williams, A. D. (2008). Innovating the 21st-Century University: It’s Time!, EDUCAUSE

Toffler, A., (1989). The Third Wave, Bantam Books.

West, E. G. (2001). Education and the Industrial Revolution, Liberty Fund Inc.

Wikipedia, Assessment, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assessment

Zukas, M., & Malcolm, J. (2002). Pedagogies for lifelong learning: building bridges or building walls? In R Harrison, F Reeve, A Hanson and J Clarke (eds) Supporting lifelong learning. London: Routledge/Open University.

IV. Appendix: History of the versions of My Philosophy

Version 1: articulated in 1981: The focus was on curriculum and teaching.
Version 2: articulated in 1992: The focus was student learning and success.
Version 2.5: articulated in 1996: The focus included the use of Technology.
Version 3: articulated in 2000: Constructivist concepts were adopted.
Version 3.5: articulated in 2008: Web 2.0 concepts were included.

Learning: Intrapersonal Interaction

Berge (1995) identified 2 types of interactions in learning: interactions with content and interpersonal interactions. I think we need to add a third one: intrapersonal interaction (i.e. self-reflection) since reflection is an essential learning activity that leads to understanding and appreciation (Boud, 1985; Schön, 1991). Otherwise, we will limit the learning to rote learning!

As such, I would like to paraphrase Berge’s statement to read:

“An educator designs a course that is to promote higher order learning, such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, rather than rote memorization, it becomes important to provide an environment in which [the three] kinds of interaction [interaction with content, interpersonal interaction and intrapersonal interaction] can occur. (Berge, 1995, p.22).

Our online courses, like our classroom delivery, should include e-tivities that entice self-reflection as well as presenting suitable content and facilities for interactions among individuals.

 

References:

Berge, Z.L. (1995). Facilitating Computer Conferencing: Recommendations From the Field. Educational Technology. 35(1) 22-30.

Boud, D., Keogh, R. Walker, D., (1985). Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning, Routledge Imprints.

Schön, D. A. (1991) The Reflective Turn: Case Studies In and On Educational Practice, New York: Teachers Press, Columbia University.

TEDx: An effective Teacher must be less helpful

I have found this TEDx video on May 18th, and blooged about it on my Anas’ Thining Zone blog. I thought to migrate it to this one for I will need it for my PhD research.
Watch Dan Meyer video (11 min). He is advocating teaching Math in a new way where students define the problem. One interesting outcome he suggests is that teachers should be “less helpful”… How can being less helpful more effective in teaching!? Could this concept be applied in subjects other than Math? What are your thoughts?

Lifelong Learning

I see that present core values of traditional educational paradigm are based on socio-economical needs rather than on learner’s actualities. Toffler in 1989 mentioned that education is influenced by the mass production mentality of the industry. Bloom’s taxonomy, which is the corner stone, foundation, walls and every brick of the educational system, we discover it was based on military concepts and mentality. Check Pickard 2007, p. 45.

The scream of changing the educational paradigms is paramount-ing. Read the works of Tapscott, Taylor and Katz. What should we change?

There are many suggestive reforms around the world. Some driven by the UN, others drive by the EU commission. Even the World Hank has set its own educational framework. They all have different models, parameters and motives and recommendations. However, they all have one thing in common: they promote lifelong learning.

What is lifelong learning? We will disagree with the answer. Personally, I like how Lambs puts it. He says that the core of lifelong learning is for teachers to “promote the examination of students’ own assumptions and beliefs and thus to think more deeply” (Lamb, 2011, p.68).

The new educational paradigm should prepare individuals to think for themselves, challenge their own beliefs, be ready to change when they find their believes are not suitable anymore. This is the best reform we can offer. It works. Ask me for the proof if you are interested.

So, yes, educators should facilitate learners to reach new frontiers in their learning. And this should start at a very early age… before high school, even before toddler age… it should be included with the breast feeding… You don’t believe me? Read Bruer. If you’re interested, ask me why I believe in this.


If you are interested to know more, read some of the following:

Council of European Union. (2011). Notices from European Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies: Council conclusions on the role of education and training in the implementation of the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy. Europe: Council of European Union. Obtained from: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2011:070:0001:0003:EN:PDF. Accessed on 12 Dec 2011.

Katz, R. (1999). Dancing with the devil : information technology and the new competition in higher education. San Francisco, Calif: Jpssey-Bass.

Lamb, R. (2011). Lifelong Learning Institutes: The Next Challnge. LLI Review, 61-10.

OECD (2009), “Lifelong Learning”, in OECD, Education Today 2009: The OECD Perspective, OECD Publishing.

Pickard, M. (2007). The new bloom’s taxonomy: an overview for family and consumer sciences. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences Education, Vol. 25, No. 1, Spring/Summer 2007.

Tapscott, D. & Willaims, A. (2010). Innovating the 21st-Century University: It’s Time! EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 45, no. 1 (January/February 2010): 16-29.

Taylor, M. (April 26, 2009) End the University as We Know It. The New York Times, 26 April 2009. [Website]: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/opinion/27taylor.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=mark%20c.%20taylor&st=cse. Accessed on 3 Dec 2011.

The World Bank. 2003. Lifelong learning in the global knowledge economy: challenges for developing countries. Obtained from: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTLL/Resources/Lifelong-Learning-in-the-Global-Knowledge-Economy/lifelonglearning_GKE.pdf. Washington, DC:The World Bank. Accessed on 3 Dec 2011.

Tofler, A. (1989). The third wave. New York : Bantam Books.